September Letter from the Dean

September 11, 2013

Dear Colleagues:

Several months ago, I shared with you my vision that we at Stanford Medicine will lead the biomedical revolution. In so doing, I started a lively and campus-wide conversation about the future of biomedicine and how we at Stanford Medicine can position ourselves to lead. Your engagement and enthusiasm have been deeply appreciated. Among a diversity of thoughts and ideas, I was gratified to hear one consistent response to the bold vision I articulated: challenge accepted.

Now that summer has become fall, I write to provide you with a brief update on a busy and productive summer in which I established goals for the new academic year and laid the groundwork for a broader comprehensive strategic planning process. I kicked off this planning process—the ultimate goal of which is to position us to meet the grand challenges of the century of biology—by hosting a retreat for clinical science chairs. The basic science chairs will gather for a strategy retreat of their own early next month.

At the clinical retreat, we focused on how we can move forward on our key priorities to build our identity as Stanford Medicine and to elevate our clinical mission. We looked for common themes and found many. We agree that research, education, and patient care must be seen as co-equal, and integrated, missions. And we share a vision to promote academic excellence throughout our clinical settings; to provide clinical care of unsurpassed quality and value; to offer highly differentiated, innovative care for the most complex clinical problems; to be a “must have” network for employers and insurance carriers; and to lead health care delivery with innovative virtual care models.

In setting strategy for the clinical enterprises, I am also working with our outstanding hospital CEOs, Amir Rubin and Christopher Dawes. Under the umbrella of Stanford Medicine, we are united in identity, purpose, and a commitment to excellence. Safeguarding that excellence and ensuring the quality of our physician practices and clinical networks is among my highest priorities as dean.

We seek not just to maintain a high standard of quality but also to define what quality means in this new era of accountable care. As I shared with you a few months ago, Stanford Medicine received an extraordinarily generous gift to transform cancer research and care delivery. This month we will begin designing and implementing clinical and operational interventions across the Cancer Care Programs in three categories: improving patient flow, increasing coordination of care, and implementing new models of care for cancer patients. This new era of health care also requires that we provide value and coordinated care, which will be the focus of the new Stanford health care accountable care organization that we will launch this year. Its success will require new population management practices and integration with community physician networks.

Leading the biomedical revolution will require new models for care delivery as well as new paradigms for research. In this regard, a key focus this year will be planning for the global big data initiative in collaboration with Oxford University. During my visit to Hong Kong this summer, I received a commitment from the Li Ka Shing Foundation to a provide a planning grant that will allow us recruit an executive director for the initiative who will develop a process for awarding seed grants, recruiting post docs, and hosting a second annual conference on May 21-23, 2014. In keeping with our goal to deepen our relationship with Stanford University, our planning for the global big data initiative will include raising philanthropic support for other schools according to the priorities established by the university’s working group on theoretical and computational sciences.

Among my other priorities for the year are to ensure the success of the next phase of the Campaign for Stanford Medicine, to build the school’s administrative foundations for excellence by continuing to work with central units to identify opportunities for improved cost controls and efficiencies, to streamline our faculty appointment and promotion processes and create greater consistency across departments, to expand our faculty development activities, to establish a process for expanding diversity at the departmental level, and to develop shared goals for diversity efforts that are currently fragmented among the various populations of students, trainees, faculty, and staff.

Last, but certainly not least, leading the biomedical revolution will require us to train the leaders of tomorrow. In this area, I am committed to working with school leadership to refine our medical school curriculum in order to smooth the transitions between premedical, medical, and postgraduate medical education and to more fully integrate basic and clinical science training through early, longitudinal experiences in science, scholarship, and clinical learning. I will also support the school’s engagement in the creation of innovative instructional methodologies designed to complement interactive exercises for learners across the medical education continuum.

Several weeks ago, the latest crop of medical students arrived on campus, and I am astounded by their accomplishments. Selected from an applicant pool of more than 7,300, these 102 students are a diverse group. Twenty-three were born outside the United States; 15 hold advanced degrees: 10 have master’s degrees and five have PhDs; and one-third have published in peer-reviewed journals. I cannot wait to see what these students will accomplish during their time here, and I look forward to getting to know them better in my twice-monthly evening receptions with students.

I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm and am grateful for the pleasure of working alongside you every day. The announcement earlier this week that molecular neuroscientist Thomas Südhof and former Stanford scientist Richard Scheller won the Lasker Award demonstrates once again that we have the preeminence and innovation needed to lead the biomedical revolution.

I will continue to share with you the progress that we make—together—in defining and refining our strategic priorities. In my next letter, I will provide an update on the strategic planning retreat with the basic science chairs. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing your thoughts at our next community-wide town hall on Monday, September 30 at 11:30 a.m. in Berg Hall and at subsequent town halls at our locations on Porter Drive and in Redwood City.

With warmest wishes and deepest appreciation,


Lloyd B. Minor,  MD

Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the School of Medicine
Professor of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery
Professor of Bioengineering and of Neurobiology, by courtesy